|Alain Richard: Keep All that WEU Stands for |
Alain Richard: Keep All that WEU Stands for
Paris -- March 16, 1999 (WEU) -- Alain Richard, the French Minister for Defence, called on Tuesday for everything WEU had achieved to be preserved as the debate on the future of European defence intensifies.
Addressing the Standing Committee of the Assembly of WEU, Mr Richard said that "as far as WEU is concerned, stepping up the debate on European defence must not give the impression that the Organisation exists today only to disappear tomorrow". Pointing out that "European security owes a great deal to NATO", the French Minister added "the future holds a more important role for the European Union which, when the time is ripe, will have to integrate WEU's capabilities and functions".
"Defence Europe has to be able to stand on its own two feet, that is to say, make progress within the Atlantic Alliance and also become autonomous. The second requirement can only promote, not contradict, the first. That is what Saint Malo is all about", he stated in a reference to the Franco-British declaration issued last autumn, calling for the European Union to have a "capacity for autonomous action, backed up by credible military forces".
"WEU can claim to have made a number of achievements. It is up to us to use them intelligently in the service of a project which goes further than WEU" said the Minister. "As regards how the Organisation as it stands today will contribute to the CFSP (Common Foreign and Security Policy) and make its political-military capabilities available to the European Union, the consultation process is just at the start and all the countries concerned still have to state where they stand in order to make sure that the discussions on this matter are prepared thoroughly". During the debate, Mr. Richard expressed the hope that there would be an "in-depth analysis" of this subject this year and in 2000 so as to arrive at "a time-frame and plan of work" that would make it possible "gradually to create the means for a credible European defence".
Committee proposed that it "develop a medium-term programme for gradually bringing about the integration of all the areas covered by WEU's remit into the intergovernmental framework of the European Union". According to Mr de Puig "the European Council could take a decision of principle to that effect at the Cologne Summit, provided consensus among Europeans is strong enough for them to forge resolutely ahead towards European defence".
The Committee suggests three main stages for the possible integration of WEU in the European Union: in the short term, firm up the Saint-Malo agreements, consolidate the Amsterdam Treaty and open a process of institutional adjustment. In the medium term, strengthen cooperation within the framework of a process of integrating WEU in the European Union, which would move forward in step with EU enlargement. In the long term, achieve a common defence and implement a European defence capability in close coordination with NATO.